Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have written an algorithm that monitors a person's unconscious eye movements as they read, to assess their proficiency in a foreign language.
Yevgeni Berzak and his team used an eye tracker mounted on a desktop to evaluate the competency of English language students.
Using factors such as how long a person's gaze remained on a word, the team compared foreign language students to native speakers who performed the same exercise. An algorithm then estimated the participants' language proficiency score based on eye-tracking data, comparing the results to scores on two standardized language tests. The results show a strong correlation between eye movements and reading proficiency.
As a next step, the researchers are building a tool to determine a person's abilities while they are reading online, which could serve as the basis for creating personalized online learning tools that modify text to match skill level.
From New Scientist
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